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Sportfishing Smorgasbord at ‘Bass Capital of the World’


Sportfishing Smorgasbord at 'Bass Capital of the World'Lake Eufaula offers anglers a wide range of water depths, structure and cover from which to catch bass. (Photo by John Felsher)

May 27, 2022 By John Felsher

Created in 1962, Lake Eufaula on the AlabamaGeorgia border garnered an early reputation as the “Bass Fishing Capital of the World.”

Eufaula offers anglers about 640 shoreline miles with numerous shallow feeder creeks and deep, old river channel holes that stretch to depths of 60 feet and more in places.

Officially dubbed Walter F. George Reservoir, the impoundment covers 45,181 acres on the Chattahoochee River. From a state-agency perspective, the reservoir is known as Eufaula in Alabama and Walter F. George in Georgia.

Over the years, Lake Eufaula has produced many double-digit largemouths. The old lake still produces excellent numbers of bass in the 1- to 4-pound range, some 5- to 8-pounders and an occasional double-digit fish, with some topping 12 pounds.

“Lake Eufaula is well known for producing big bass and big stringers,” says Jack Tibbs, mayor of Eufaula, Ala., and owner of Strikezone Lure Company. “Sometimes, it takes [a five-fish limit of] more than 25 pounds to win a tournament here.”

Bass anglers can find good action all year long on Lake Eufaula. Spawning traditionally peaks during the full moon in March but extends into April and beyond. By May, anglers may still find some bedding bass, but most largemouths are now looking for something to replenish their energy reserves after spawning season.

“Eufaula consistently offers great fishing for a variety of species for anglers who know where to go on the big lake,” says Sam Williams of Hawks Fishing Guide Service. “The foundation of the ecosystem on Eufaula is the terrific shad population, which feeds predatory fish and keeps the overall ecosystem and fishery healthy.”

WARMING WEATHER

As the weather warms, grass beds and native aquatic vegetation grow thicker. In late spring and early summer, vegetation begins to top out, forming mats. These mats are bass magnets, attracting every food source bass feed on.

Working this matted vegetation with unweighted soft plastics on top draws vicious blow-ups. Texas-rigged worms are particularly good when worked along the edges of weedlines. As the water and weather continue to warm, anglers target deep creek channels, humps and ledges with Carolina rigs, deep-running crankbaits and heavy jigs.

                                       <br /><p>"In May, the frog bite picks up, too. Bass can be caught on either soft-plastic buzz frogs or hollow-body frogs depending on the day and the mood of the bass," Williams says. "Anglers can also throw spinnerbaits, buzzbaits and poppers. When fishing Texas rigs around the grass I opt for really light weights. This allows the bait to sink slowly and draw fish from the grass. I also like to throw flukes, especially when fish are in the thick cover, mimicking dying shad."</p><img src="https://www.gameandfishmag.com/img/BackgroundGradLoad.jpg" alt="Lake Eufaula Bass Docks" width="1200" data-src="//content.osgnetworks.tv/gameandfishing/content/photos/gaf-EufaulaFishingBassDock-1200x800.jpg" />Docks are plentiful on Eufaula, providing shady refuge during warm weather and a hiding place from which to ambush bait. (Photo by John Felsher)<p>Docks dot the shorelines of Eufaula, offering manmade structures that attract fish, especially when it warms up. Docks offer shade and cooler water temperatures, and many dock owners place secondary cover, such as brush piles for crappies, near their docks, which in turn attract bass.

“An angler can’t go wrong throwing jigs or square-bill crankbaits at docks any time of year on Lake Eufaula,” Tibbs says. “Swim either lure around and under docks, bumping it into the dock supports. As the bait bounces off the wood, it triggers bass to strike aggressively.”

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MULTI-SPECIES DAYS

Some of the best fishing occurs in Cowikee Creek by Lakepoint Resort State Park. Many bass fishing tournaments run out of the park and release their fish in the marina. Anglers fishing around the marina commonly catch lunker largemouths and other fish. People visiting the park can also catch good fish right from the bank on a variety of baits and lures.

During one trip with Williams, we fished around the marina docks and the Cowikee Creek channel. Using shad-pattern lipless crankbaits and jerkbaits, we caught numerous species of fish.

Lake Eufaula CrappieCrappie Guide Tony Adams hefts an average Eufaula crappie. Here, big slabs are in the 3-pound range. (Photo courtesy of Tony Adams)

“While Eufaula is best known for its outstanding bass fishing, visitors here can catch a wide variety of fish species on any given day,” Williams says. “May is a great time to catch multiple species. Anglers can catch largemouth or spotted bass, different kinds of catfish, crappie, hybrid striped bass and several species of bream. Yellow perch are really starting to appear with regularity here now, too.”

THE MAYFLY HATCH

From late spring through early fall, anglers should look for mayfly hatches. Mayflies spend most of their lives underwater as nymphs.

After morphing into winged adults, the insects emerge from the water by the millions, triggering major feeding frenzies. Bluegills and other panfish swarm to snatch flies off the surface. Largemouth bass, in turn, feed on the bream.

“When mayflies get on low limbs, fishing gets crazy,” Williams says.

“I’ve seen bluegills dancing on their tails knocking mayflies off the branches. When it gets like this, fishermen throwing beetle spins can absolutely slay all types of fish.”

Once, while with a crappie client, Williams happened upon a particularly large hatch. His client had 4-pound-test line with a crappie jig tied on and caught a 6-pound largemouth.

                                  <p>Advertisement</p>                                      <p>                                          </p>                                  <h3>PANFISHING</h3><p>Most people fish for Eufaula’s crappies during the spring spawn in March and April, but anglers can catch them here year-round. After the spawn, many anglers troll for crappies or run spider rigs.

“Lake Eufaula has a strong population of crappie,” says Tony Adams, another guide who calls Lake Eufaula home (334-695-3003). “The lake produces good average crappie, and fish often get into that 3-pound range. I’ve heard of a couple fish exceeding 4 pounds, too.”

When targeting crappies and panfish, Adams focuses his attention on weed beds, rocks and the waters around the bridges. Bluegills and other panfish spawn later than bass and crappies. In a good bedding area, anglers can catch a load of panfish on fly tackle, small spinners or a traditional bobber with a cricket or worm dangling beneath it.

“Bream on Lake Eufaula bed most months,” Adams says. “We find them with our electronics in 3 feet of water and as deep as 12 feet. In May, we catch them in about two feet and right up against the banks, throwing any type of spinner.”

Redear sunfish (also called shellcrackers), spawn earlier and deeper than bluegills. They will hit flies, spinners and small crankbaits, but Adams feels the panfish definitely prefer natural bait.

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“Shellcrackers usually start bedding around the end of April. They congregate on and around the banks and love any type of grass,” says Adams. “I look for a little structure around the edges of the bank.

“At first, we catch shellcrackers in shallow water. Then, they move out to about 4 to 5 feet deep. During the summer, they move into deeper water.”

Lake Eufaula CatfishBig cats prowl the 45,000-acre lake. To catch them, soak live or cut bait from 3 to 60 feet, depending on the time of year. (Photo by John Felsher)

THE CATS

Lake Eufaula produces good numbers of blue and flathead catfish in the 30- to 40-pound range, with some bigger ones caught on occasion. The lake also holds an abundant channel cat population.

“In May, we usually catch catfish in the creeks and where the creeks hit the river,” says Adams. “We fish from 3 to 16 feet deep. Later in the summer, we fish the channels almost exclusively. We use lines that go 20 to 60 feet deep.”

When plying for flatheads, Adams often opts to head up the Chattahoochee River north of Lakepoint. Flatheads favor live bait now, while channel and blue catfish opt for cut baits like mullet or skipjack.

                                  <p>Advertisement</p>                                      <p>                                          </p>                                  <h3>Trip Planner</h3><img src="https://www.gameandfishmag.com/img/BackgroundGradLoad.jpg" alt="Lake Eufaula" width="1200" data-src="//content.osgnetworks.tv/gameandfishing/content/photos/gaf-EufaulaFishingMap-1200x800.jpg" />Things to do in and around Eufaula, Ala.<p>While in the area, nature lovers should explore Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge. The 11,184-acre refuge straddles the Chattahoochee River and attracts many bird species, offering tremendous opportunities for photography enthusiasts and bird watchers alike. The refuge also offers hunting opportunities.

For history buffs, the town of Eufaula dates to 1816, three years before Alabama became a state. The town survived the Civil War untouched, and visitors can tour many original antebellum mansions during the annual Eufaula Pilgrimage Tour of Homes. Each December, the town hosts a Christmas Tour of Homes. Visitors may also visit the 1884 Shorter Mansion furnished with period antiques. Downtown Eufaula offers excellent dining in several restaurants, and a giant bass statue resides in the city’s park.

Lakepoint State Park offers lodging in the resort hotel and cabins. The park operates a first-class restaurant and other places to eat. Boats are available for rent.

Since the lake straddles the Alabama-Georgia line, anglers can use a license from either state to fish most of the lake. For additional Eufaula area information, visit eufaulachamber.com.



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